Robert makes mention of Digigram below.
They make excellent professional products and make a number of PCI and
PCIE cards. I can only speak personally about their VX Pocket PCMCI
laptop interface but but have seen a number of their products in use
in the broadcast and film industries and they are highly regarded.
Most of their products have AISO drivers for Linux as well.
More at: http://www.digigram.com/
Corey Bailey Audio Engineering
Quoting Robert Cham <[log in to unmask]>:
> Hi Tom, Konrad, and David,
> I thought that you might appreciate some input from my world which
> is both Recording on the Mac Platform and Broadcast on PCs.
> First a correction. AES/EBE type I is balanced and 110 ohms. Type
> II is unbalanced on 75 ohm coax. Type 1 is very useful for long
> runs, and really doesn't seem to care much about impedance. I, and
> many others have used Belden 8451, an analog balanced cable, for AES
> 3 runs up to 100', and found it quite reliable.
> More and more broadcast studios are going to Cat 5 for audio
> cabling. I've been running Cat 5 within studios and control rooms
> for the last 20 months, running into Logitek Jetstreams in each room
> with Cat 6 for networking between the rooms. None of the problems
> that you might expect from unshielded cable have reared their ugly
> heads. Tightly twisted pairs seem to work very well, even without
> shielding. This is not surprising as this was the way that radio
> studios were wired fifty years ago.
> SPIDF is limited largely by the current capability of SPIDIF
> hardware drivers. Still, it has proven itself very reliable on runs
> of up to 5 Meters, even in environments rich in RF noise. It is
> probably reliable beyond that, but why take a chance when a SPIDF to
> AES BALUN is cheap and effective.
> When wearing my recording hat, I have made extensive use of Firewire
> 400. I make a point of buying good cables, generally from Other
> World Computing, a Mac specific vendor. In a pinch I just look for
> the largest diameter cables, on the frequently true premise that
> large diameter conductors limit line losses. That does seem to be
> true for digital as well as analog cabling.
> I couldn't agree more about keeping audio outside of the RF rich
> environment of computers. External boxes for audio interfaces are
> always preferable. In my small studio I use a MOTU 896, modified
> for better analog audio by Black Lion Audio for Jazz recordings.
> For on location two track classical recordings, I have used a
> Digigram VX pocket PCMCIA card in an older MAC laptop.
> Unfortunately Digigram has not made a card for newer Macs and PCs,
> as they feel that the newer card slots do not provide enough current
> for good mac preamps.
> I'm still looking for a new two channel interface for a newer
> MacBook Pro that I have finally purchased. I'm seriously looking at
> an Apogee Duet 2 for the task. I'm somewhat put of by the the fact
> that they went from Firwire to USB 2 for the interface to the
> computer, due largely to bad experiences with USB 1 in the past.
> USB 2 is faster of course, but still not faster than even Firewire
> 400, due to the overhead that Konrad mentions.
> Lastly, broadcast, at least radio broadcast, has stuck, with XP Pro
> as the OS of choice for PCs. General unstability for audio work and
> problems with drivers is the reason, possibly along with the
> conservative nature of broadcast engineers. Also in this world, the
> Lynx cards have largely replaced the CardDeluxe for two channel
> applications. RME cards seem more oriented to mult-channel
> Just my $.02. Take it for what it's worth.
> Bob Cham
>> Hi Konrad:
>> This is very helpful. Thank you. My thinking was apparently based
>> on previous generations of technology.
>> My DAW is circa 2009 and is somewhat old-school in that it's a
>> Windows XP (not emulated, real-deal XP Pro), uses PCI interfaces (a
>> linked pair of CardDeluxe) and all the external drives are
>> Firewire. It's rock-stable and works fine. When it dies, I will
>> need to rethink this whole MO.
>> As far as Firewire cables and connectors, I've never had a problem
>> BUT all my stuff is wired up once and never touched after that. I
>> can see your point when it's a multi-user setting, but it seems
>> like the USB connectors and cables would be just as bad. Agree that
>> "in the box" Firewire cables can be quite cheapo. I've always used
>> Belkin after-market cables, which have thicker insultion and seem
>> to be well-constructed and well-shielded.
>> In general, your statement about keeping audio outside the box is
>> very sensible. CardDeluxe happen to be well-build and have always
>> run dead-quiet in my systems, but I've had varying levels of noise
>> and hash with Soundblaster, Ensoniq and M-Audio PCI cards over the
>> years. It seems more dependent on specific computers' internal
>> environments than specific cards; a card that is noisy in PC 1 will
>> run just fine in PC 2, etc. I assume a Lynx or RME PCI card would
>> be designed and built as well as a CardDeluxe and would thus run
>> dead-quiet in any or most PC's. But, as I said, next time out I
>> need to rethink all of this in light of advanced technology.
>> -- Tom Fine
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Konrad Strauss"
>> <[log in to unmask]>
>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 9:46 PM
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] digital input sound card recommendation
>>> My problem with firewire is the cables and connectors. Especially the
>>> connector which is easily dislodged, not a good thing when recording
>>> audio. As Bob Olhsson mentioned, the build quality of cables is generally
>>> poor. Both firewire and USB are capable of isochronous data transfer so
>>> there is no reason why firewire should perform better. However Firewire is
>>> peer-to-peer whereas USB requires the host to arbitrate traffic and since
>>> USB will also have input devices (mouse and keyboard) attached, I suppose
>>> it's possible that this could interfere with streaming audio. But if you
>>> do the math, both Firewire and USB should be able to handle over 80
>>> channels of 96-24 audio input/output, so there should be enough overhead
>>> to fit a couple of mouse clicks in-between the audio stream. (For the
>>> record real-world transfer rates are about about 25-30% below the stated
>>> In general I feel it is a bad idea to have AD conversion in the computer -
>>> it is full of EM interference and clock chatter. Try this experiment: take
>>> a piece of 24 gauge wire and wrap a half dozen tight loops ~1" diameter in
>>> the middle. Solder the ends to pin 1 & 2 of an XLR and plug it into a mic
>>> input of a mixer, crank up the gain and hold the loops next to your
>>> computer - all that crap you hear is also being picked up by your ADC. An
>>> outboard unit will be better shielded and isolated.
>>> Konrad Strauss
>>> Director of Recording Arts, Professor of Music
>>> Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
>>> On 8/10/11 8:16 AM, "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Hi Konrad:
>>> Thanks for the information and clarification.
>>> So your preferred system is an internal AES/EBU card and do all the ADC
>>> and DAC through external
>>> units not integrated with the computer, so the computer is more a "record
>>> and playback head" than a
>>> full-fledged "tape machine"? I've thought about going this way with my
>>> next DAW, not using the
>>> computer for any analog interface, either way, but using it as a storage,
>>> processing and editing
>>> system all in the digital world.
>>> What is it about Firewire cables and connectors that you find to be
>>> "dodgy"? I thought Firewire was
>>> the more reliable interface for constant-stream data like digital audio
>>> and video, that USB was
>>> designed more for bursts of data like moving files between hard drives or
>>> emptying photos off a
>>> camera or sending a document to a printer.
>>> -- Tom Fine
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: "Konrad Strauss" <[log in to unmask]>
>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>> Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 9:30 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] digital input sound card recommendation
>>>> +1 on the Lynx cards. We have six AES16 that have been in service for
>>>> years now. As with all computer systems they require tweaking from time
>>>> time as the OS is updated, but I've found maintenance to be pretty
>>>> To answer a couple of Tom's points below, jitter is not a issue in
>>>> digital-to-digital data flow. This is called interface jitter, and as
>>>> as the samples arrive at their destination intact no harm is done. (The
>>>> other kind of jitter is called sampling jitter, it happens during ADC and
>>>> can cause major problems) So Firewire and USB interfaces are not
>>>> necessarily bad, it really depends on the implementation. Personally, I
>>>> dislike the cables and connectors, especially Firewire. The whole system
>>>> seems dodgy to me. You can also run into problems if you want to use
>>>> Firewire/USB DAC and ADC units from different manufacturers, often this
>>>> impossible because of incompatible drivers. I much prefer to stick with
>>>> The interaction between audio and video subsystems is probably caused by
>>>> an IRQ conflics. My memory is a little hazy since I haven't had to deal
>>>> with this for a few years, but occasionally PCI slots will share the same
>>>> IRQ address so if the audio and video card are in slots that share,
>>>> glitches can be put into the audio stream when minimizing windows or a
>>>> monitor going to sleep. Usually the recommendation is that if this
>>>> try swapping PCI slots. I think that in Windows 7 you can manually assign
>>>> IRQ addresses but like I said I haven't had to deal with this for a while
>>>> so I may be misremembering.
>>>> Konrad Strauss
>>>> Director of Recording Arts, Professor of Music
>>>> Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
>>>> On 8/9/11 1:46 PM, "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>>> Hi David:
>>>> That's a real bummer. Those are my front-line ADC's too.
>>>> There has been much progress in recent years with external ADC's.
>>>> I keep reading articles
>>>> and papers about the USB connection not being ideal due to jitter and
>>>> latency issues. And yet,
>>>> firewire keeps getting de-emphasized by hardware manufacturers. I'm also
>>>> not sure what role video
>>>> circuitry plays in a modern Windows system. Even thru XP, there was some
>>>> interaction between digital
>>>> audio and the video subsystem, I'm not expert enough to discuss details
>>>> but there are articles and
>>>> white papers out there.
>>>> If you're doing your analog-to-digital conversion externally and then
>>>> "recording" an AES/EBU stream,
>>>> it seems like you could use a very simple interface, but again I'm not
>>>> sure how much clocking and
>>>> latency matter in that setup.
>>>> I've had some CardDeluxe cards since 1999 and they still work fine. Why
>>>> not just recycle them as you
>>>> upgrade computers, or are you building out more workstations and now need
>>>> a new way to skin the cat?
>>>> -- Tom Fine
>>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>>> From: "David Seubert" <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> To: <[log in to unmask]>
>>>> Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2011 1:38 PM
>>>> Subject: [ARSCLIST] digital input sound card recommendation
>>>>> This discussion has come up repeatedly over the years but I just learned
>>>>> that the Digital Audio
>>>>> Labs CardDelux has been discontinued. I'm not sure why they have been
>>>>> discontinued, but we got a
>>>>> call from the manufacturer who said that they are "obsolete." We have
>>>>> long used their cards (we
>>>>> are a PC shop) and I need to spec out another PC-based audio
>>>>> workstation. I use the CardDelux for
>>>>> the AES/EBU digital inputs.
>>>>> What are people using for digital input from an external ADC these days?
>>>>> Is there an equivalent
>>>>> sound card to the DAL card with AES/EBU digital inputs? I know some ADCs
>>>>> offer firewire/USB
>>>>> outputs, but I haven't really explored that.
>>>>> Please send any suggestions to me on or off list.
>>>>> David Seubert
> Bob Cham
> 90.1 HD 2 & ktru.org
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